> 2008/12/31 Greg Lindahl <lindahl@... <mailto:lindahl%40pbm.com>>
> > On Wed, Dec 31, 2008 at 07:24:39PM +1300, Antonia Calvo wrote:
> > > Gerard identifies it as "Battata Virginia" and the description
> > > definitely jives with potatoes--
> Could it also be sweet potato? That's the Spanish word for it, at
> least. In
> its more
> general meaning, it means "tuber". It'd be worth checking what the exact
> meaning is in Latin and Italian.
> And happy new year!! :)
Smartt and Simmonds,Evolution of Crop Plants is a series of
chapters written by different authors on the various crops. I have the
second edition, 1995. The chapter on potatoes, Solanum tuberosum says
"The first recorded European contact with the potato was in 1537 in the
Magdalena Valley. [northern Andes, Colombia]. The Spanish invaders
became familiar with the crop and it was probably about 1570 that a
Spanish ship first introduced potatoes to Europe. Legends
notwithstanding, Raleigh and Drake had no hand in the introduction.
From Spain, potatoes were widely spread round Europe before the end of
the century and were repeatedly the object of writings and drawings by
the herbalists...A source in the northern Andes for the first
introduction to Europe seems likely.
"The potatoes of the central Andes were adapted to the prevailing
short days of those latitudes; they tuber very late or not at all in the
long days of a north temperate summer. Andean potatoes are therefore
ill-adapted to Europe and indeed, it was nearly 200 years before the
crop began to have any significant impact in its new home. By the late
eighteenth century, clones adapted to long days had emerged." (N. W.
Simmonds, U. Edinburgh, Scotland p. 468.)
Looking in the same book at the entry on sweet potatoes, I find
"Columbus brought the first sweet potatoes from the Americas to Europe,
where they were referred to as "aje". These starchy types common to the
West Indies were not sweet and were compared to carrots. Subsequent
Spanish voyages to Central and South America brought back a sweeter type
of sweet potato called 'batata" and 'patata" that the Europeans liked
better. "( J.R. Bohac, P.D. Dukes, US Vegetable Laborator, Charleston SC
and D.F. Austin Florida Atlantic Univ., p. 57)
Interestingly, these guys go on to add "The Peruvian potato, Solanum
tuberosum (later dubbed Irish potato) was introduced about the same
time. Because it was better adapted in northern Europe, it became the
predominant potato in northern Europe, whlie the sweet potato remained
dominant in southern Europe" (ibid). I guess that refers to after the
18th century, since all but the last 100 years in ancient history to
researchers. (Well, all but the last 5 years for molecular biologists).
Sweet potatoes are a southern US crop, so presumably they still need a
I had thought the batata came from the Indian name of sweet potatoes.
What I found is: my Latin dictionary gives no word at all like it and my
unabridged English dictionary says potato is from batata which is from a
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